Police looking for a missing 3-year-old boy at a remote compound in northern New Mexico didn't find him—but they did rescue 11 other children who were living in the most squalid conditions they'd ever encountered. Police say the starving children were living with five adults in an underground trailer near Amalia, NM, the BBC reports. The compound was searched after officers watching the property received a message that said: "We are starving and need food and water." Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe says the children, ages 1 to 15, were being kept in "the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen," the Washington Post reports.
Two men, described by the sheriff as heavily armed, uncooperative, and possible Islamic extremists were arrested. Three women, believed to be the children's mothers, were detained and later released. Police say one of the men, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, has been charged with abducting his 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from Jonesboro, Ga., last year. The boy, whose mother says he is encephalopathic and needs emergency medication, wasn't found at the compound. Area residents tell the Taos News that they never had any problems with the group, though they did seem mysterious. "It's a great place, but strange people live out on the mesa," says one neighbor. "People that are trying to get away from things." (Read more New Mexico stories.)